Egyptian authorities received worldwide condemnation last week for effectively shutting down the nation's access to the internet as people flooded the streets to demand the ouster of their longtime leader, Hosni Mubarak. But a bill that would hand President Obama the power to similarly shut down the internet in the U.S. without judicial review may be reintroduced in Congress this year. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the bill's co-sponsor, says the ability to control access to the internet would be a vital tool in a "national cyber emergency," such as a targeted virus or hacking attack. But is an internet "kill switch" really an acceptable extension of presidential powers?
No. Politicians will abuse it: Mubarak was able to "shut down dissent" in Egypt by switching off the internet, says Chris at AmericaBlog. Don't think American presidents wouldn't do the same. "Politicians will abuse the power they have," and this plan "won't even allow the courts to get involved" when that abuse inevitably occurs. This bill impinges on our freedom.
"Lieberman still promoting internet 'kill switch'"
This vital security tool is not a 'kill switch': The bill wouldn't actually "mandate the shuttering of the internet," says an aide to the Senate Homeland Security Committee quoted by Wired. What it would do is allow the president to turn off access to "so-called 'critical infrastructure' if necessary." So, for example, if cyberterrorists targeted the floodgates of the Hoover Dam, the government could cut that connection to the internet.
"Internet 'kill switch' legislation back in play"
Don't we already have one of these? This bill is hardly a new idea, says Kevin Depew in Minyanville. The Communications Act of 1934 allows the president to "shut down any communication station or... device in the event of wartime or national emergency." Isn't this just a "new coat of icing on a cake that was baked" back in 1934?
"U.S. pushes bill for internet 'kill switch', but unlike Egypt will only use its power for good (LOL!)"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The latent sexism of the male marriage proposal
- Bush vs. Clinton in 2016 is the perfect way to make millennials hate politics even more
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- Don't blame Chuck Hagel: Obama's foreign policy has been a disaster from end to end
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
Subscribe to the Week